How to deal with Stress and Anxiety

Would you like to reduce the severity of distress and discomfort that comes with negative experiences by making some simple little shifts in language and how we communicate?

There are two things to mention here: 1) We shrink down what we are communicating because we want to communicate more quickly, swiftly and easily. We talk about using generalisations. We make assumptions that the other person that we are communicating to is going to have an idea about what we’re talking about. That is not always the case and that’s when it can lead to problems. An NLP Practitioner can help you to understand the different ways to ask questions that will uncover hidden generalisations. 

Imagine I asked my colleague to go to the shops and get a bag of sugar because we have guests coming this afternoon and they may want tea or coffee but my colleague is from a family of bakers and they bake beautiful cakes. There is always icing sugar knocking about in their house so instead of buying granulated sugar, she buys icing sugar because that’s what sugar means in her world. If comment that she has bought the wrong kind of sugar it’s my communication that is at fault. I did not express my instruction in a level of detail and specificity that would fit in with the way that she thinks. That’s on me as the communicator. It’s a challenging thing to take responsibility for because we don’t always know what other people are thinking and how other people think. Often we just assume that they think in the same way that we do; it turns out that they don’t.

When one person has one idea and the other person understands it in a completely different way there is a misunderstanding because of it. There are definitely times when detail more emphasis more information are particularly helpful to us. A Hertfordshire NLP therapist can help with communication in this instance. 

However, when someone is in a negative state or a state of anxiety, I propose to you that in those instances to minimise communication – not just the amount and degree of what we say but within the terminology too. The terms and statements that we use should be shrunk, dissolved and reduced to reduce the problems that we are experiencing.

For example, if you have a tendency to be a little bit dramatic when things are starting to go horribly wrong and you do that in the quiet of your own mind, if you have a tendency to go worst-case scenario or to just over amplify stuff and make things have more significance than they needed to be then this tactic is going to be really important for you.

The reason why it’s so important is that we need our brains to see the problems and anxieties that we experience as being simple and solvable so that it feels super motivated to find the solutions for us. If we represent problems to ourselves as being big scary complicated and overwhelming then quite frankly your brain just wants to go hide under the duvet. We want to think about it in as logical and small wording as we possibly can!

A few weeks back I had come home from work. I was really tired. it was late and I still needed to cook dinner and there was a lot of ‘I still need to do’ is happening in my head which was causing me a certain level of stress and anxiety but first I needed to do the washing up so I resentfully did the washing up and having done it I then turned around and had the experience of seeing a plate that I’d missed. 

By this point, I’d already emptied the bowl out of the water and so it was quite frustrating for me to see that there was something I’d forgotten and that whilst I had psychologically checked washing the dishes off of my list, actually, the job was not finished yet and what I caught myself saying to myself inside my head was “damn it, there’s a whole other plate that needs washing up and now. I’m going to have to fill up the entire bowl all over again”.

I caught myself in the flow of this internal dialogue and interrupted myself by saying “It’s just washing up a plate though isn’t it?” and then I made myself giggle because I realised that I was doing something that I always forewarn my clients against doing in my hypnotherapy clinic, particularly those with stress and anxiety which is to over amplify the severity of the issue at hand. I was really going for it and it made me chuckle because, you know, even when you know this stuff you can still get caught out by it. The most important thing, however, is that you catch it and when you do you correct it.

Over the coming weeks and months, I am challenging you to identify where you blow up and over amplify problematic things that are occurring and to reframe them by which I mean rephrase them to yourself. State them in more simplistic terms or at least more realistic ones and do the same with those around you too because very often when you start practising with these skills it’s easier to identify them in other people than it is to identify that you do it to yourself. So if they say ‘this is horrendous, it’s an absolute disaster’ then you say ‘you’re right, it’s pretty bad isn’t it’, so you’re not disagreeing but at the same time you are not going up at that high level that they’re going in with. You’re going to take it down.

You’re going to bring it down a notch and you can even start paying attention to your intonation. The tone of voice that you use as you say it because if they’re throwing around a ton of emphasis like this then you can just take a breath and restate what you want to say in a slightly slower more pause filled and more considerate way so that again you start to drain the drama away from what’s going on! There are times when we want to add in more detail so that we are super clear in what we’re saying and helping others to understand our communication as thoroughly as possible but when those times relate to high drama, high anxiety, high pressure were adding in even more is not going to be favourable in those instances.

We want to be shrinking minimising and reducing the level of that we add into what we are saying by using language which is reducing the impact of the severity of the thing that we’re talking about!

By Gemma Bailey

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